Why we shouldn’t drug test welfare recipients

There are many reason why drug testing welfare recipients is a bad idea. It’s unconstitutional for one reason and it will affect the children of these families. However I want to discuss (to me) the most important reasons we should not allow this; Stigma and fairness.

Do you or anyone you know attend a public school or university?  Receive tax credits or exemptions?  Drive, walk, or bike on a road or highway?  Have you ever called the police for a fender bender or burglary?  We all receive taxpayer-funded public benefits – there’s almost no way to avoid them.  Why should you and I get special treatment, as recipients of public benefits, such as low interest home loans or student loans, while others should be subject to mandatory drug screening? It’s interesting to note that none of the drug testing bills would apply to legislators, whose entire salaries are paid by the taxpayers. How often do we hear about legislator drug or alcohol abuse and wild parties? The assumption that people with low-incomes are more likely than other segments of the population to be drug-users is not only factually incorrect, it’s an unfair and mean-spirited stereotype that has no place in our public policy decisions. It also fuels the negative stigma the alcoholics and addicts are unemployed and unqualified.

 

Another compelling reason we shouldn’t drug-test welfare recipients is that substance abuse is a disease. While not all people who use drugs are addicts, studies show that welfare recipients with substance abuse problems have a high incidence of mental and social disorders and turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms. Mandatory drug testing of welfare recipients is opposed

I am definitely in support of holding people accountable. However, let’s hold everyone accountable, not just the easy targets. If we allow society to do this we are essentially strengthening the negative stigmas attached to addiction and reducing the likelihood of seeking help while receiving benefits. I can definitely agree that some type of reform may be needed, I don’t know what that is, but I know this is not the answer. Those struggling with untreated or untreated mental illness and/or substance abuse are in enough pain already.

For more information on ending the stigma, please visit my website

www.beyondthetunnelvision.org

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